10/23/2013 12:28 EDT | Updated 12/23/2013 05:12 EST

TTC maps: are subway names better than numbers?

In a move to bring clarity to maps and station signs that often confuse its riders, the TTC is considering an extensive revamp of how its system information is presented, including using numbers instead of names to identify subway lines.

Some details of the proposed revamp, intended to bring "simplicity and clarity to customer journeys," is included in a report made to the TTC board at its Wednesday meeting.

The report points to confusing signage, cluttered maps and the use of competing names to identify the same subway line.

As an example it sites the Young-University-Spadina line, which is referred to by each of the following names both colloquially and in the TTC's own information:

- YUS Route

- Yonge subway

- Spadina trains

Confusion over the line's name will get worse, according to the report, as it's extended northward into Vaughan.

To address this, the report suggests adding official number designations to each subway line (the TTC already uses numbers internally to identify lines).

The report says adding numbers has the following advantages:

- Easy to understand for customers whose first language is not English and doesn't rely so much on geographical knowledge of the city.

- Easy to remember.

- Line name doesn't need to change as the line is expanded into new areas.

- Works well on mobile applications, such as cellphones.

The report says the name designations for subway lines won't fall out of use and will remain "in many applications."

Other proposed signage and wayfinding upgrades include:

- Adding more "you are here" indicators to subway maps inside stations.

- Expanding the use of the TTC's "subway" font. This is the classic and well recognized font used for station names inside the stations. The TTC will consider using it outside on station entry points.

- Cleaning up and simplifying graphics in the Ride Guide system map, which shows subway, streetcar and bus routes. The guide has been criticized as a confusing jumble of red lines.

The new signage and mapping will be tried out in a pilot project at Bloor-Yonge and St. George Stations before the TTC decides whether or not to make the changes system-wide.